House Elects Rep. Mike Johnson As New Speaker

Representative Mike Johnson at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25./CNN

By Shlomie Katash

 

   Three weeks after the removal of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans have voted in Louisiana Representative Mike Johnson as the chamber’s newest speaker.

   Johnson’s nomination and eventual victory came off the heels of a contentious power struggle between various factions in the GOP over issues related to budget cuts and relations with the Democratic Party.

   He first sought the gavel on Oct. 21, but was defeated by Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer after five anonymous polls of Republican members that whittled down eight candidates to one. Only hours after, however, Emmer dropped out of the race once it became apparent that he would not win the necessary support of former President Donald Trump and thus those in Congress still loyal to Trump.

   On the same day, 220 Republicans voted to make Johnson their fourth nominee for speaker in just three weeks, which was more than the minimum 217 votes he needed. Johnson, a relatively unknown congressman who has only served for six years and ten months, making him the least experienced speaker in 140 years, per Axios, quickly received Trump’s endorsement.

   “My strong SUGGESTION is to go with the leading candidate, Mike Johnson, & GET IT DONE, FAST!” the former president said on his platform Truth Social.

   Following suit, one day later on Oct. 25, every House Republican in attendance voted on the floor for Johnson to become speaker, granting him enough support to be officially elected.

   On Oct. 26, Johnson met with President Joe Biden before attending a bipartisan briefing at the White House regarding the continuation of military funding for Ukraine and Israel. Later that evening, Johnson pledged that the House would “find the cuts” to send money to Israel, but refused to commit to anything regarding Ukraine, according to CNN.

   Johnson subsequently claimed that Biden is experiencing “cognitive decline” and engaging in “an ongoing cover-up” regarding his son’s business dealing, stating that House inquiries will continue and hinting at the possibility of formal impeachment.

   As Johnson has entered the national limelight, details and concerns surrounding his record and past have been revealed.

   In editorials from the mid-2000s found by CNN, Johnson defended laws criminalizing homosexuality and wrote that it was “inherently unnatural,” “dangerous,” and could lead to the collapse of democracy and the legalization of bestiality and pedophilia.

   Johnson has also been a longtime supporter of laws restricting abortion, which he called “a holocaust,” per CBS News. He cited his faith in the Bible as the reasoning behind his various efforts to limit abortion and his co-sponsorship of a bill that would have banned abortion entirely, though he has recently reversed his position and stated that he now believes it should be a decision left to the states, according to The New York Times.

   In 2016, Johnson proposed a bill that would protect clergy who refused to perform same-sex marriages. However, the bill was swiftly defeated after allegations surfaced that Johnson altered the text to expand protections to clergy who discriminated against interracial marriages.

   After Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, Johnson was one of the central House figures who fought to overturn the result, receiving personal gratitude from Trump himself for his failed efforts, according to CNN.

   Now that the House officially has a speaker, the chamber can formally begin the process of negotiating funding for the government. If a deal is not reached by Nov. 17, the government will shut down. However, Johnson has floated the idea of a short-term deal to extend the deadline.

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